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NBA Deputy Commissioner Tatum says All-Star Game needs ‘tweaks’ not overhaul

Michael Smith and Natalie suggest how the NBA can fix the All-Star Game format after record-low ratings.

In a world of sharply divided debate — both in our national discourse and around the NBA when it comes to things such as the MVP race — there is one thing w can all agree on:

The All-Star Game sucked.

Just don’t expect a major overhaul, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum told ESPN in an interview at the Basketball Africa League tip-off in Dakar, Senegal.

“There’s no doubt - we have to look at the All-Star game and make some tweaks and continue to ensure that it’s an entertaining product for the fans out there.

“At the same time, we have to be cautious. It is an exhibition game, so we don’t want players getting hurt during that game.

“Understand: there’s a balance there. It’s something that we’re looking at - and having conversations, by the way, with the players, on things that we might be able to do differently next year.”

As the NFL has discovered as well, there is no easy way to add real stakes to the game — something that would engage the players and have them do things like play a little defense, or just play hard— and ensure everyone’s health and safety. Tatum did not discuss what those tweaks might be, but there are no easy answers.

“I think they’ve done a good job changing the ending of the game,” Celtics’ Jayson Tatum said after winning the All-Star Game MVP this season, referencing the target score ending. “But, you know, safety first, right? It’s supposed to be fun. You don’t want anybody to get injured or get hurt.”

The All-Star weekend still is a draw for the league, the NBA’s Tatum pointed to the record fan engagement on social media (1.75 billion fan engagements). But that’s what the NBA All-Star weekend has become, a highlight factory for the best players in the world, which plays brilliantly in short clips on Twitter or TikTok, but if you watch the whole game — or expect intense competitiveness — it’s a letdown.

There likely are not any tweaks that fix that.